Hartford Seminary in Connecticut is hosting its annual Luce-Hartford Conference in Christian-Muslim Relations from June 18 – 20, focusing on the theme: “God’s Creation and Human Responsibility.” I am honored to be providing one of the keynote addresses for the conference.
The intention of the conference is to engage Christian and Muslim religious leaders with a common issue and explore the work that different Christian and Muslim individuals and organizations are doing in the area; as well as to provide practical opportunities for action and advocacy.
This year the topic will be on the environment and climate change. The conference will have one Muslim speaker and one Christian speaker who will provide keynotes on the topic of climate change and environmental concerns.
I will be the Christian speaker, and my lecture is titled: “Beyond ‘Creation Care’ – Building the Eco-Ethical Ark for the Age of Climate Disruption” (excerpt below).
Each keynote will be followed by a response from a Hartford Seminary faculty member. The sessions following each of the presentations will focus on Muslim and Christian communities that are engaged in particular green projects.
The final session will be a presentation from University of Notre Dame law professor, Ebrahim Moosa, who will analyze the Pope’s Encyclical, Laudato Si’, from the perspective of Islamic law.
The conference will address:
- The role of Muslim and Christian theological views on human responsibility to the environment.
- The impact of climate change on local religious communities.
- The role of and advocacy by faith-based organizations and individuals for environmental responsibility.
- Network opportunities for faith-based programs and organizations.
Here is an excerpt from the introduction of my lecture:
Our conference theme is “God’s Creation and Human Responsibility,” and right out of the gate I am telling you that humanity has largely shirked, dishonored, ignored, and violated that responsibility to the point that the viability of God’s Creation is now in question. I realize that for some, the reaction to this statement may range from disbelief to dismissiveness. I will warn you that this will not be a lecture that avoids the hard truths about what we are facing as a human civilization.
I didn’t use to be so blunt.
For many years, I and others used the term “Creation Care” to instill a sense of moral and ethical responsibility into our discourse. It’s as if we tried diligently not to offend or get too “political” with our rhetoric about issues that have become divisive and poisoned by partisanship. Even the leadership of my own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, shies away from using the term “climate change” for fear of offending the faithful. So “Creation Care” seemed a viable nomenclature, for how can one take offence at caring about and for Creation? Plus, it has that nice alliterative ring to it: “Caring for Creation.”
But I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re past the point of being able to “care” for Creation.
Care is too benign a word. It does not convey the desperation of our planetary condition or the urgency needed to act on what is happening. I propose we need to move beyond the word “care” and adopt three other alliterative phrases in its place. Those phrases are:
- Creation Clarity
- Creation Compliance
- Creation Compassion
My lecture will take each of these phrases in turn. I will conclude with proposing the image of creating an “eco-ethical ark” for preserving what remains of our beautiful planet. You will likely notice that this presentation is heavier on grim truth-telling than it is on optimism. That is, unfortunately, the place where we are.
But that does not mean we are without hope. My goal is to speak prophetic truth, galvanize us to act on that truth, and most importantly, to see each other as interfaith allies in undertaking this Great Work of our time.
To find out more, or to register for the conference, click here.
Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary (Kentucky) and author of the book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). She is an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA).